Heaven Can Wait Review

Heaven Can Wait… But you Shouldn’t!!

By Emily Lindholm

Lyric Arts is “in the pink” with its latest enthusiastic and heartfelt take on Harry Segall’s 1930’s classic, Heaven Can Wait.  This touching, thought-provoking comedy about love, life, and the gift of a second chance transports us back to a time when life was “swell” and, under the quietly precise direction of Mishia Burns Edwards, will resonate with audiences long after curtain call.

Immediately introduced to the unfortunate plight of a young boxer who is taken to Heaven sixty years too soon, Heaven Can Wait is an instant intrigue and treat for the eyes and the imagination. From invisible angels, to talking ceilings, to a few hastily-planned “body swaps,” the audience is led through a chuckle-filled series of comedic twists, trials, and tribulations as the Angelic officials try desperately to return Joe Pendleton back to Earth for good!

Joe, played by the charismatic Daniel Coleman, exudes enough youth, energy, and vibrant desire for life to fill five bodies, and finds his counterpart in Mr. Jordan, played by Corey Okonek, whose quiet authority commands the stage (whether he is there or not) and provides reassurance, strength, and charm in the face of a rather grave set of circumstances.

Along with the workout for the imagination, audiences will also find themselves exercising their laughs with the engaging screwball comedy stylings of Tim Como as Max Levine, Joe’s outspoken and less-than-fashion-forward boxing manager, as well as in the mishaps involving the haphazardly hidden extramarital affairs of Mrs. Farnsworth and Tony Abbott, played by Alison Anderson and Tom Benson, skillfully blending physical comedy with high class propriety to create a scandalously clever dynamic to the overall performance.

Acting aside, the seamless costuming, perfectly patterned set, and nostalgia-inspiring swing music combine effortlessly to create a world that could have been pulled straight out of an early Frank Capra film. The period accuracy of everything from the set dressings, to the shoes, to the full-sized baby grand piano lends to such an impressive amount of believability that Cary Grant himself could walk through the door at any moment, and the audience wouldn’t bat an eye.

Although deeply steeped in 1930’s and 40’s culture, the themes throughout Heaven Can Wait are quintessentially timeless. Life, love, loss, and the pricelessness of time spent with those who matter most continue to ring true today, and this performance at Lyric Arts allows for yet another intimate and heartfelt opportunity to explore the diverse, and yet unifying, facets of the human condition.

All in all, the dedication and precision of the production crew, along with the endearingly upbeat talents of the cast allow Heaven Can Wait to radiate straight off the stage and into your heart, and is bound to leave audiences of all ages positively “tickled pink.”

A little about Emily: Emily is a rising senior at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania studying Sociology and Peace & Justice Studies. A native of Champlin, Emily is very much familiar with the “goings on” at Lyric Arts, and is also acting as the Communication and Development intern this summer. In her spare time Emily enjoys partaking in the Twin Cities comedy club scene and taking any spiced chai tea latte that comes her way!

"Heaven Can Wait" Opens Tomorrow!

It's been a long road for the cast and crew, but we've reached that magical stage in Tech Week, tonight is the final dress rehearsal. That final moment where everything just comes together. We are so thankful that the cast had one last moment to spare to tell us just a little bit more about the show and themselves.

Tell us something that you are particularly excited about the show coming together.

Pat Noren Enderson: I’m excited for Act III, it promises to run the gamut of emotions.

Linda Monroe: I'm excited just watching the whole production come together and the way the actors have each others' backs!

Nickie McClure: I am just excited for being in my costume and having the sound, lighting and just performing for a live audience.

Daniel Coleman: Honestly, I am excited about everything. I cannot wait until opening.

Kelly Ahlman: I am so excited to see how each relationship in the show will finally play out together. This has been such an incredible journey for all of the characters. I am personally thrilled for the audience to experience the different connections that Joe and Bette carry through to the end.

Why do you choose to spend time at Lyric Arts?

Pat Noren Enderson: I love that Lyric Arts is a professional theater in a small town that encourages local actors and contributes to the community.

Linda Monroe: Lyric Arts has become almost a second home to me.  I've met so many great people here, and being around this atmosphere has brought me out of my "shell" and given me self-confidence.

Nickie McClure: I LOVE the shows they choose to put on. Everyone is always organized and prepared!

Tim Como: Why Lyric Arts? I had so many great things about this place, I had to come and check it out for myself. I'm glad I did.

Daniel Coleman: Lyric Arts is a great organization to be a part of, it's a team first environment and each person I've met strives to excel expectations. I am thankful for the opportunity.

Kelly Ahlman: Although my drive to Anoka is quite long, the experiences I have had make it completely worth it. This is my first show with Lyric Arts, and from the audition process to now during tech week, it has been a time for fun with the cast and staff, and a time for difficult challenges to be worked through artistically and personally. I have learned something from each of my fellow actors, and so much from our brilliant director and stage manager.

Lyric Arts pushes you to bring out the best of yourself and they respectfully instruct you in how to reach your potential. Our goals are the same; to bring a show to life that we can truly be proud of, and the audience can feel that they have just been a part of something spectacular.

What wonderful words! We are so lucky to have so many people be so excited to bring something so special to life on the Main Street Stage! You can join them by getting your tickets today. Just call the Box Office at 763-422-1838 or skip the line and get your tickets online! We can't wait to see you!

We're Wowed by "Heaven Can Wait!"

We spoke with the cast about some of the wow elements of Heaven Can Wait, as well as some of the rituals they use to prepare before going on stage.  It's a good thing that the show opens on Friday. Every time we speak with this cast, they've managed to get us even more excited for the show!

What do you feel are the “wow” elements of Heaven Can Wait?

Nickie McClure: There really is so much WOW in HCW- I would go with how great the director and sound engineers are- just being able to turn a short little story into something with heart, passion, and inspiration is wow to me.

Linda Monroe: I'm impressed by how some of the actors have really gotten into their character, especially Corey, Tom and Allison.  I love the interactions between Tom and Allison!

Pat Noren Enderson: The bittersweet love story among the self discovery and mystery is the wow in this production.

Do you have any rituals or things you do to prepare to go on stage when you are performing?

Daniel Coleman: I make sure I am relaxed and I pray before anything I do.

Tim Como: When it comes to rituals, I'm a pacer. I'll pace back and forth, for as long as I can. I also try and stay quiet and focused.

Nickie McClure: I always quick go over my lines and say them in the mirror to make I look the way I am supposed to.

Linda Monroe: I've always tried to go off by myself right before every performance and say a little prayer for the cast, crew AND audience - that everything goes well and we have a receptive audience.

Pat Noren Enderson: Before each act, I take a few minutes to relax and soak up my character--their background and their relationships with the other characters.

Guys, this show sounds amazing!  You're definitely not going to want to miss it! Luckily, you can get your tickets immediately online, or just give us a call in the Box Office at 763-422-1838.

"Heaven Can Wait," but we can't!

We spoke with the cast again this week, and asked them why people should come see the show.  The responses were amazing.  We were already super excited for this show, now opening night can't come soon enough!

Why should people come see Heaven Can Wait?

Kelly Ahlman: Teenagers to adults should come see this show because it portrays a very important message in an entertaining way. A person cannot lose everything, if they are true to themselves. The hero, Joe, loses his body, but after different transformations and the loss of his old self, the real "Joe" is still there. He becomes the fighter he has always wanted to be and finds love in a girl who sees something in him, hears something in him, which he may not have found if he had not gone through the trials he was made to face. Heaven Can Wait is a fun, emotional journey with a bittersweet ending that will leave the audience wanting more.

Tom Benson: This story is a hidden gem, and ends in a different way than most body swapping stories end. Do you like to laugh? Do you like drama? Do you like body swapping and the hilarity that ensues while it occurs? Do you like to go to the theater? All of these reasons are why you should come.

Tara Martinsen: People should come to this show because it's hilarious!  And my fellow cast members are excellent actors!  I am in awe during every rehearsal!  The characters really come to life and "sell" this story!  I also feel that this play makes you think about what you are doing on this Earth.  Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing?  When you die, will you have done everything you were meant to do...what you wanted to do?  Plus, it's always fun to imagine who you would switch bodies/lives with

Nickie McClure: It is so hilarious. I have been laughing at every rehearsal. The actors replicate their characters perfectly.

Linda Monroe: Heaven Can Wait has a little bit of everything in it - comedy, drama, romance.  For those who are regular followers of Lyric Arts productions, there are some familiar faces here, but there are also some exciting new faces to discover!

Pat Noren Enderson: People should see HCW because we are telling a little bit of a different story then the movies have shown. This play has a lot of heart and is very funny. We’ve got great actors who will pull the audience into the dilemmas and situations. They will be thoroughly entertained.

 

How are things going thus far? What’s your favorite part of the show?

Pat Noren Enderson: I absolutely love rehearsals, even when it is not for my part. I’ve started a photo album on Facebook with photos I’ve taken during rehearsals. I am learning so much from Mishia Edwards, our director, and the other actors. I can’t wait to audition for another play!

Linda Monroe: Rehearsals have really pulled together this past week, so I'm getting more excited!  I don't really have a favorite part yet - just enjoying how it's starting to come together.  For me the most difficult aspect is really trying to develop a specific character -this is the first role I've had that's really a defined person!

Nickie McClure: It is going great. It is a huge learning experience watching others develop their character. I just love the rehearsals because I am learning so much from the acting exercises and I just really love to act. The only hard part is that I work full time and have two young girls so I get pretty drained by Wednesday!

Tara Martinsen: Things are going great!  Rehearsals are fun and lively, with everyone trying to get off book.  Our cast bonded really well and really quickly.  Which I am thankful for...it always helps when a cast is a strong group, instead of just a bunch of strong individuals.  The hardest part at the moment is just memorizing the lines and the blocking, although even that is going really well.  I am so impressed with the memory capabilities of my cast members.

Tim Como: We're plugging along. Spencer Tracy would be proud of us. We're learning our lines, and nobody is bumping into the furniture  

Daniel Coleman: Everything is going well; everyone is having a great time. Hard work and fun is a good mix for success. I enjoy what I do; everyday is enjoyable with our team.

Tom Benson: Things are going very well so far. Everyone is really getting invested in his or her parts and characters are emerging. Books are going away and we are getting comfortable in our space. My favorite part of the show is where Max is running around trying to find that ever evasive Mr. Jordan. Tim is comical in the bit and I know I love watching him do it. The hardest thing by far is not looking at the people who aren’t there. When you do a play about ghosts you can’t look at them!!!! I constantly find myself turning my head when Mr. Jordan talks. It’s been pretty hard to tune out their dialogue.

Kelly Ahlman: My favorite part is the dynamic of all twelve characters, and how they each tie together. There are some very dramatic moments in the show, and some very hilarious moments. It makes for a unique contrast. Our cast does a lot of laughing during rehearsals, yet we have definitely put all of ourselves into the hard work of making this an awesome experience. My character has to cry during one tense scene, and I find myself with tears in my eyes and a big, dopey smile on my face.

Wow! It's a good thing opening night is little more than a week away!  Much more, and I don't think we'd be able to stand the wait.  If you're anything like us, you'll want to get your tickets right away!  Luckily, you do that right from our website or just call the Box Office at 763-422-1838.  See you in June!

Another Peek at "Heaven Can Wait"

We're piquing your interest about Heaven Can Wait, with this behind-the-scenes peek! The cast of Heaven Can Wait, took some time out of their busy rehearsal schedules to answer more of our most burning questions.

Tell us a little bit about why this particular show interested you?

Kelly Ahlman: I had read some of the storyline for Heaven Can Wait and had seen bits and pieces of the Warren Beatty film prior to auditioning. It had a very interesting plot and great characters with a lot of depth. I knew I wanted to be a part of that. I thought it would be a wonderful start with a new theatre company. As it turns out, I was right!

Tom Benson: When I auditioned I only had the briefest inkling as to what the show was about. The reason I came in to audition was because I liked the story itself and it had been a while since I have been a part of a play. It scared me a little and I knew at that moment I had to do it.

Daniel Coleman: I was intrigued by the journey that Joe goes through; as well as the overall message being conveyed in Heaven Can Wait.

Tim Como: I read the script and thought that it was a very funny, thoughtful play. When I saw the 1940's version of the movie, it sealed the deal.

Tara Martinsen: I didn't know much about this show when I went to audition!  When I saw the brief synopsis and list of characters listed on the Lyric Arts website, I noticed there were several characters that sounded like I could play them.  It was while reading the lines at the auditions that I started to get really excited!  The short scenes that we auditioned with really grabbed my interest.  That's when I was hooked.

Nickie McClure: I was intrigued because it wasn’t a musical.  Then I rented the Warren Beatty version and thought it was so humorous!

Linda Monroe: I really liked the Warren Beatty version of this movie - a favorite of mine!  Also, I've been in two musicals and I wanted to try a non-musical.

Pat Noren Enderson: I was familiar with the story from the 1978 movie of the same name that starred Warren Beatty. Additionally, I thought that a funny, non-musical play would make a good first role for me in the theater.

Corey Okonek: I remembered seeing the Warren Beatty version in the theater when it came out and thought it would be a fun show.

 

Tell us a little bit about the character you’re playing.

Corey Okonek: I play Mr. Jordan, the angel that takes Joe though his 2nd life.  I saw Mr. Jordan as sort of "the boss", for lack of a better term, with a huge heart.  As I've done w/some other roles, I drew a lot of the character from my Dad.  He was part of the greatest generation, serving in China during WWII and then retired as a Captain from the Wisconsin State Patrol.  He was a bear of a man that you really didn't want to see walking up to your car at a traffic stop but he had the heart and tenderness of a teddy bear.  As Joe says, "I really learned of lot from you".

Pat Noren Enderson: I play three characters--

Nurse: The script notes she is Swedish. I play her with a Swedish lilting accent and use a couple of Swedish words instead of the English ones.

Ann: Ann is a maid who is last on the totem pole and she is the only one who is excited about the changes they see in Mr. Farnsworth when Joe enters his body. She doesn’t care for the second maid, Susie, who tends to over-react to things, so Ann ignores her as much as possible.

Doctor: The doctor is a strong ambitious women evidenced by the fact that she is the fight doctor. She is serious yet gets caught up in the hi-jinks in Act III with the others after the fight.

Linda Monroe: I play Mrs. Ames, the head maid/housekeeper for the Farnsworths.  It's been a challenge for me trying to develop this character, but last week Mishia (Edwards, the director) made a comment about how Mrs. Ames is pretty much completely oblivious to everything that's going on with the other people in the house.  She's also a little curious about what's going on, so that's how I'm trying to play her.

Nickie McClure: Escort 2 is trying to prove to Mr. Jordan that she is very competent. It was easy to develop because Cory, who plays Mr. Jordan, does his part so well. He has a stern voice and shows his authority beautifully- I have no choice but to be an obedient escort. As for Susie- she seems very naive and hysterical, which is easy for me to play. The hysterical part is so fun!

Tara Martinsen: I play Messenger 7013.  Messengers are the ones that transport souls to Heaven.  On my first day as a Messenger, I screw up...BIG TIME!  I bring a soul (Joe Pendleton) to Heaven 60 years before he is supposed to die!  Then, while trying to fix my mistake, his body is cremated and now he can't return to Earth to finish out his life in his own body.  I've tried to make my character as someone that is really too smart to have made this mistake, but she is an over-eager, ready to please sort of person.  Someone who was maybe given too much responsibility and this job too soon.  She is very much stuck in the middle, trying to prove herself worthy and competent to both her boss and to Joe Pendleton.

Tim Como: I play Max Levene, Joe's boxing manager. He's a bit of a wise-cracker, and not always the brightest guy in the room. But, he says what me means and is very loyal to Joe, or Farnsworth, or whoever he ends up being...While working on Max, I try and think of how character actors from this time period would move, how they would speak, and how they would react to the situation at hand.

Daniel Coleman: I play Joe Pendleton. He is a boxer who gets in a plane crash and his souls is taken 60 years too soon and his body is cremated before he can be sent back. Through his journey he changes into different people in order to attempt to fulfill his goals. I took the time to research and find out what personality traits make my character unique.

Tom Benson: I play Tony Abbott. He’s Mr. Farnsworth’s personal secretary and Mrs. Farnsworth’s lover. He’s also the man who conspires and succeeds to kill Farnsworth. Tony is a complicated character to play. Immediately you think, bad guy. However he’s more complicated than that. He does love Julia and wants to be with her. The fact that Farnsworth has money doesn’t hurt, but I believe deep down, he is a man driven by passion. He’s a guy who wants it all, at any price. It’s finding his redeeming qualities and playing his opposites that make it fun to explore him. He’s a human being. We all have positive and negative qualities that make us who we are.

Kelly Ahlman: I play Bette Logan. She is a strong and determined young girl who has to fight to get her father out of jail. She starts by hating and ends up falling in love with the man who, she at first believes, framed her father. It has been an enjoyable challenge developing this character. She is smart and dedicated, yet a bit naive when it comes to love. The audience does not see so much of her, as some of the other characters, so I have to make sure they get to know the amazing person she is in brief moments. She can read between the lines and sees something in the eyes of others that may not be obvious unless you take a step back, and look with your heart.

Well, we sure are convinced, this is going to be one amazing show!  There's just two short weeks left before opening night, so be sure to get your tickets today!

What's "Heaven Can Wait?"

Well, we asked our cast that very question, and they had some great answers for us! Don't worry, no spoilers here! Just enough to whet your appetite for this fantastic and enduring comedy.  

 

 

Tell us a little about Heaven Can Wait.

Kelly Ahlman: Heaven Can Wait is a story based around a young boxer who is taken to Heaven 60 years too soon. He must make difficult decisions to decide if coming back to Earth is really what he wants. There are some very interesting characters, both alive and spiritual, that he meets along the way. He learns the valuable lessons that people are not always what they seem, never stop fighting for what you believe in and that true love transcends even death. This show brings a blend of humor and drama to the stage that will surely captivate hearts and minds alike.

Alison Anderson: Joe is an athlete who's about to have a nasty accident.  The messenger responsible for collecting souls of the dead sees the accident coming, and compassionately tries to save Joe his suffering by taking him out of his body just a moment or two early.  Unfortunately, Joe's athletic reflexes would have saved him and he would've survived and lived another 60 years.  Joe's manager cremated him, so he can't get his own body back and the messenger tries to make good on her blunder by finding him another body to live out the rest of his 60 years with.  He winds up in the body of a recently-murdered wealthy businessman and hilarity ensues as Joe tries to fill a role entirely unsuited to his personality.

Daniel Coleman: Heaven Can wait is a Fantasy/Comedy about a boxer whose plane crashes and is sent to the Hereafter before his time was actually up. His body is cremated and Joe (the boxer) is sent through a series of body swapping with hopes of continuing his lifelong dream of being World Champ and falling in love. A series of obstacles come along and some big decisions must be made.

Pat Noren Enderson: This show is a romantic comedy from the 1930’s about coming to terms with who you are inside despite what physical covering you may be wearing on the outside. It’s subtle humor and fun characters give this play heart.

Nickie McClure: It is about a boxer, named Joe who dies too early, so heaven escorts have to find him a new body. The body he gets is a rich man whose wife is planning to murder. What happens to Joe in this new body???

Audience members will find “body-swapping” in Heaven Can Wait. Do you have a favorite body swapping movie?

Corey Okonek: Not really a body swapping movie but Trading Places is one of my favorites.

Nickie McClure: Freaky Friday is my favorite.

 

Pat Noren Enderson: The 1978, Warren Beatty version of Heaven Can Wait. I think it captures the same heart and subtly that the play has.

Tim Como: As far as “body swapping” movies go, I haven’t seen too many. So, of the ones I seen, I’d have to say that Vice Versa is my favorite. It’s a late 80’s movie that stars Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage.

Daniel Coleman: My favorite body swapping move is (if I can recall) The Change Up.

 

Alison Anderson: Actually, I really liked the 1978 version of Heaven Can Wait.  I saw it when I was a kid and I re-watched it (along with the other two film versions) when we started rehearsals.

Kelly Ahlman: The original Freaky Friday from the 70's, starring Barbara Harris and a young Jodie Foster, has to be my favorite body swapping movie. They were a delight and the way they brought a mother and daughter switching personalities to life, could not have been more entertaining. Classic!

Let's Talk Heaven

Heaven Can Wait, that is.  We here at Lyric Arts are not a group to rest on our laurels.  No way, with a super successful Cabaret Fundraiser under our belt, now we're thinking Heaven Can Wait The cast of Heaven Can Wait has been thinking about it since mid-April, and they've agreed to tell us a little about the show and a little about themselves.  So settle in for a good read, as the cast prepares to answer our most burning questions.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you, what do you like to do?

Alison Anderson: I like to keep busy with all sorts of different activities.  I'm always acting and auditioning for more parts.  I do both film and theater and love both equally, though for very different reasons.  I'm also a runner, getting ready for my 3rd half-marathon, which falls on the opening weekend of the show.  I used to be quite active in martial arts, and I have a 2nd degree black belt, but I'm out of practice these days.

Daniel Coleman: My name is Daniel Coleman; I am from Minneapolis, MN and a graduate from the University of MN. I enjoy sports, quality time with family & friends, acting, poetry and almost anything to do with being outdoors.

Tim Como: I’m originally from Marshall, MN. So yes, I do know what “flat” looks like and what “wind” feels like. I’m the youngest of five kids…ah, the stories I can, and do tell. I’m a veteran of the U.S. Navy (so if anyone wants to sit down and swap sea stories and lies, I’m game). I attended Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. That is where I met my totally wonderful wife of 25 years, Renee. We don’t have children, which is probably why we’ve been married for 25 years. We do have two of the coolest cats around, Smoke and Cinder. We’ve also added two goofy rabbits to the mix, Ziggy and Sophie.

Pat Noren Enderson: I am originally from St. Louis Park. I currently live in a renovated country school house on the outskirts of Elk River with my husband and 9-year-old twins. I am a marketing consultant by day and I absolutely love social media. I also cannot stop reading the Hunger Games book series—I’m on my third read-through now.

Nickie McClure: I love to bike, run, make jewelry, and relax at the beach.

Corey Okonek: Grew up in Wisconsin, and I'm a cheesehead til death.  Married for 32 years to the same wonderful woman I met in high school.  We have 2 grown children and 2 beautiful grandchildren.

Tell us something awesome about one of your fellow cast members

Nickie McClure: Danny, who plays Joe, does poetry readings of pieces he writes.

Pat Noren Enderson: I am amazed daily by Corey Okonek’s talent. He plays Mr. Jordan and is so regal as well as down-to-earth in the part. I don’t know how he does it, but if he could bottle it, he’d make a fortune.

Tim Como: The awesome thing about this cast is they ALL make me laugh, which is a really cool thing.

Daniel Coleman: Each of our cast members is filled with personality and I learn something new every day; the most unique quality of our cast is the diverse experiences with theatre; as well as their roles in everyday life.

Alison Anderson: I'm working with a group of people I've never worked with before so I'm really still getting to know them.  One thing I think is really cool is how great Corey's voice sounds for his part.  His role is rather ethereal, and he's got this smooth, deep voice that's perfect for his role and the lines he has to say.

Kelly Ahlman: There is no one cast member that stands out in their brilliance. All twelve of us in the show have been striving to bring something important and unique to the storyline. We have all gotten along amazingly well from the first rehearsal and have grown along the way as a comfortable team. We have been extremely fortunate to have a director and a stage manager who raise the bar and challenge us with their visions to make this show something that will stay with the audience after its over. Therefore, this cast as a whole, is awesome!

Can you tell us something surprising about yourself? A fun did you know fact?

Alison Anderson: I am an unusually scientifically-minded person for an artist.  I have an MS degree in Cognitive and Perceptual Sciences.

Pat Noren Enderson: Did you know that this was my first audition ever?

Nickie McClure: I can blow a bubble gum bubbles as big as a volleyball!